Northwestern Michigan College Team Lands in Cacoal

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With 24 hours of traveling from one point to the next, time soon became irrelevant and insanity became somewhat saner. With bags weighing between 33 to 48lbs, nothing sounded more welcoming than a hot shower or anything that did not resemble a chair to sleep in. However, as soon as we landed, we received the ultimate gift as cheers, smiles, and hugs filled the airport and a group of Brazilian students stood at the threshold of security and the outside world. Chanting our names and bouncing up and down, the weight of our backpacks and sleepless night seemed to disappear and be replaced with energy! Without a second to waste, we sprinted like energizer bunnies to meet our new friends; leaving our comfort zone and entering into their world with a universal connection: hugs, laughter and cheers.

As cliché as it may sound, there is not a single English word that I can fathom to describe the feelings that June 24, 2016 had bestowed upon myself and my fellow coaches/friends and leaders. I cannot speak for Katy, Oliva, Jacqueline, Terry and Bri, so I asked them as individuals:

“First, I saw the students from the window and I began to understand everything was becoming real.  Before that, everything seemed to go from real to unreal, because the google hangouts during Phase I were hard to create a somewhat realistic connection. Yet, as soon as I got off the plane and saw them, I knew everything leading up to this point was real. As I hugged my first student and the confetti popper went off, my heart started to beat faster and faster.  I also saw Olivia was crying, which made me cry.  One of the hard parts was leaving my students for a second to go back into the airport to get my bags, because all I wanted to do was talk to them and be with them. All in all, it was beyond my expectations” – Katy Min

“Mainly I just felt super overwhelmed with excitement and emotion. Just completely overcome with happiness and so amazed that it’s actually real
It feels like one of those things that I’ve been counting down to for so long that I can’t believe it’s actually happening!”-Olivia Fleet

“I felt like a fricken movie star! It was much more impactful than I anticipated. The love was just incredible. It all made me extremely eager to begin teaching and get to know all of my students as individuals”
-Jacqueline Ewing

“Seeing my students made my heart beat so fast that I thought it was going to pop out of my chest. Just hearing their voices and hugging them for the first time made everything about US-Brazil Connect fall into place without force. Without a doubt, US-Brazil Connect is the best decision I have made in a long time.” –Stephanie Fiebing

“I felt honored to be with the NMC team as they were greeted by their students. Even with the intense humidity and heat, I had chills. It was truly a heartwarming welcome. Another thing that really touched me was what some of the students’ welcome signs said, “we already love you!” For me, that is one of the most beautiful things about working with the students of Conexão Mundo; they have so much love to share with their coaches and the other students on their team. They truly embody the spirit of this program. It’s about boundless friendships, cultural exchange, and opportunities”-Bri Erger

“At first I knew we arrived at the correct location. I was not expecting any students since Friday was a school day. So, it was great when I saw them lining the fence. But then, the cheering inside/outside the airport entry-way was fantastic and assured me that we are going to have 3 great weeks in Cacoal. I was very happy to see the greetings between the coaches and your students. The smiles and tears were great and demonstrated the bonds that have been forming during Phase I. And to know that it will only get better is amazing” –Terry Cox